The Wanderer

As I walked through the wilderness of this world …

Posts Tagged ‘Benjamin Keach

Austin Walker talks Keach

with one comment

Written by Jeremy Walker

Saturday 18 July 2015 at 09:17

Posted in Interviews

Tagged with ,

“The Excellent Benjamin Keach”

leave a comment »

Excellent Benjamin Keach (Walker) 2aWould you allow me to draw your attention to a book? It is my father’s work, and concerns a man that you may not know, a seventeenth century Baptist called Benjamin Keach. Keach was one of the movers and shakers of the century, a prominent London Baptist who faced fierce persecution but also saw sweet blessings. He was a pastor of the church which can be traced to the one meeting today at the Metropolitan Tabernacle.

Might I also say that it is not just a tale for Baptists or historians, though both would find it delightful. His example as a man who wrestled toward truth, stood fast in accordance with his convictions, was prepared to suffer for the cause of Christ, and served the Lord and his people faithfully and fruitfully, makes him a worthy study for any Christian, perhaps especially any pastor.

This is a revised second edition of what is now the standard work on the life of this Baptist pastor and preacher, taking account of research conducted since the original publication. It can be found at the publisher’s website, and it is available in hardback (Amazon.com / Amazon.co.uk) and paperback (Amazon.com / Amazon.co.uk) and now has the virtue of an index, making it more useful to scholars. I strongly recommend it.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Wednesday 7 January 2015 at 12:59

Keach on the duties of church members to pastors

with 4 comments

1. It is the duty of every member to pray for his Pastor and Teachers.

2. They ought to show a reverential estimation of them, being Christ’s ambassadors, also called Rulers, Angels, etc.

3. It is their duty to submit themselves unto them, that is, in all their exhortations, good counsels, and reproofs.

4. It is their duty to take care to vindicate them from the unjust charges of evil men, or tongue of infamy, and not to take up a reproach against them by report, nor to grieve their spirits, or to weaken their hands (Jer 20:10; Zeph 2:8; 2 Cor 11:21, 23).

5. It is the duty of members to go to them when under trouble or temptations.

6. It is their duty to provide a comfortable maintenance for them and their families, suitable to their state and condition.

7. It is their duty to adhere to them and abide by them in all their trials and persecutions for the Word.

8. Dr. Owen adds another duty of the members to their Pastor, viz., to agree to come together upon his appointment.

These highlights were found and are slightly filled out here. You can read all of Benjamin Keach’s excellent stuff on The Glory of a True Church and its Discipline Displayed here.

Note that it is easy to profess all this, much harder to do it. Sometimes you find that the people most profuse in their praise of you are actually the ones who listen least to you.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Tuesday 14 August 2012 at 09:26

Wrong reckoning

with 4 comments

My father, with whom I had been going over a fine point for tomorrow’s sermon, sent through this thought-provoking nugget from Benjamin Keach:

Wicked men are undone by reckoning wrong; they do not keep their accounts well; they put the evil day far off; they measure their days not by the king’s standard, or by just rules and measures. Perhaps they reckon by their present health, their present strength, or by the lives of their progenitors. Their father and mother lived to a great age, and so they measure their days accordingly, and conclude they shall live long. But none of these rules are allowed, they are false measures of our days. God sends us to the morning dew, the weaver’s shuttle, to the shadow, the vapour, a swift post, and to the flower of the field, that today is, and tomorrow is burned in the oven.

Benjamin Keach, Expositions of the Parables (Series One) (Kregel, 1991), 274.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Saturday 19 May 2012 at 13:30

Posted in Miscellany

Tagged with

The marrow of true justification

with one comment

What is justification?

Justification is an act of God’s free grace unto sinners effectually called to Jesus Christ, wherein He pardons all their sins, and accepts them as righteous in His sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to them, and received by faith alone.

So says the Shorter Catechism. Believing that to be an accurate summary of Scripture truth, in our men’s meetings at the church I serve we have just finished working through The Marrow of True Justification by one of the early Particular Baptists, Benjamin Keach (recently republished by SGCB, and also available as an audio recording beginning here). Keach was one of the men who made it his business to stand against false teaching on this matter at the end of the seventeenth century, in company with such men as John Owen and Robert Traill, to mention only two. Keach’s work demonstrates again, if nothing else, that there really is nothing new under the sun. If you follow anything of the debates about the nature of justification and all that flows from it, Keach’s ‘Dedicatory Epistle’ will show you that the issues today, though sometimes clothed in new language and updated phrases, are really just what they always were:

Brethren,

As I was put upon preaching on this great Subject; so I am satisfied it was at a very seasonable Hour, that Doctrine being greatly struck at by too many Persons, though of different Sentiment: in many Points of Religion. And as it was well accepted by you, who heard these Sermons (and the other: that followed) when preached; and having been prevailed with to publish these in the World, so I hope some may receive Advantage hereby: Though for the meanness of the Author, and weakness of the Work, they may not meet with that Entertainment from some as the Subject deserves; yet for your sakes whose Souls are committed to my Charge, and for whom I must give Account to the great Shepherd of the Sheep at the last Day, I readily consented to this Publication; as also that all may see that we are in this, and in all other great Fundamentals of Religion, established in the same Faith with our Brethren, and all Sound and Orthodox Christians in the World: And cannot but look upon our selves greatly concerned, to see how Men by Craft and Subtilty endeavour, through Satan’s Temptations (though I hope some do it not wittingly) strive to subvert the Gospel of Christ, and corrupt the Minds of weak Christians. An Error in a Fundamental Point, is dangerous and destructive; but should we mistake some Men we have do with, we should be glad: The Lord help you to stand fast in the Truth, as it is in Jesus (in which through Grace you are well established:) Our Days are perilous; Satan seems to be let loose upon us, and is in great Rage, but Time being but short. Brethren, ’tis a hard Case that any of those who maintain the Old Doctrine of Justification, should be branded with the black Name of Antinomians. As for my part, if Dr. Crisp be not misrepresented by this Opposers, I am not of the Opinion in several respects; but I had rather err on their side, who strive to exalt wholly the Free Grace of God, than on theirs, who seek to darken it and magnify the Power of the Creature, though we fear the Design is to wound the Truth and us, through that good Man’s sides, who, I doubt not is come to heaven: O when shall we see that Truth, Peace, and Union longed for?

My Brethren, the Doctrine we preach does not open a Door to the least Licentiousness: (as ’tis unjustly said to do by some, who are either willfully or ignorantly blind.) No, God forbid. Nothing can promote Holiness, and Gospel-Sanctification like unto it, only it teaches us to act from high, sublime, and right Evangelical Principles: It shows the only way to attain to Gospel-Purity, flows from our Union with Christ, and that no Man can arrive to any degree of true Holiness, or expect to meet with any Success therein, without a Principle of Spiritual Life, or saving Faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. The Nature of Men must first be changed, and that Enmity that is in their Hearts against God, be removed, before they can be holy: The Tree must first be made good, or the Fruits will be evil. The Image of God must be formed in our Souls, which puts the Creature into an actual bent and propensity of his Heart to the Practice of Holiness. If a Man hates not Sin, be not out of Love with Sin, How should he be in love with God and Holiness? Now because we say Sanctification is not necessary, as antecedent to Justification, but is the Fruit or Product of Union with Christ; though we deny not but the Habits (of Holiness) are infused at that same Instant that Faith is wrought in the Soul, Must we be looked upon as Promoters of a Licentious Doctrine? Must we make our own Performances, or Observance a Condition of Justification, or be laid under infamy and Reproach? ‘Tis by Faith only, that we come to have actual Enjoyment and Possession of Christ himself, and of Remission of Sin; and not only so, but of eternal Life; and so of Holiness also, and no other ways. The good Lord help you to a right Understanding of these things, and make you all a holy People, to the Praise of his Glory, and Honour of your Sacred Profession.

The Holy Apostle having asserted Justification by the Righteousness of God, which is by Faith in Jesus Christ, desired to know him and the Power of his Resurrection, etc. which he did not to be justified thereby, but as a Fruit flowing therefrom, or as a further Evidence thereof. The first he had attained; but there was a higher degree of Sanctification in his Eye, which he pressed after, as then not having attained: Whose Example let us follow.

I shall say no more: You own a Rule of Gospel-Holiness; Let me exhort you to labour after sincere Obedience: And pray forget me not in your Prayers, that God would graciously help me through all my Troubles and Temptations, and preserve me and you to his Heavenly Kingdom; who am your Servant for Jesus’ sake, and so shall abide till Death.

Benjamin Keach

Keach introduces his topic, and then gets down to business:

And thus I come to my Text, Romans 4:5. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that jusfifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for Righteousness.

To him that worketh not; That is, worketh not, thinking thereby to be justified and saved. Though he may work, i.e. lead a holy and righteous Life; yet he doth it not to merit thereby; nay, though he be wicked, and an ungodly person, and so worketh not, or hath no Moral Righteousness at all; yet if he believeth on him that justfieth the ungodly, his faith is counted or imputed for righteousness; Not as a simple Act, or as it is a quality or habit, or in us, as the Papists teach; ipsa fides, saith Bellarmine, censetur esse Justitia, Faith itself is counted to be a justice, and itself is imputed unto Righteousness; No, nor in respect of the effects or fruits of it; for so it is part of our Sanctification.

In this first sermon, Keach identifies two doctrines from the text: (1) That all works done by the creature are entirely excluded in the matter of the justification of a sinner in the sight of God, and (2) that justification is wholly of the free grace of God, through the imputation [putting to our account] of the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ by faith.

He proceeds to expose some of the mistaken notions about justification that were current in his day and, sadly, have not withered away with the passing of time. In the second sermon, he returns to his key text – “But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness” (Rom 4.5) – and his aim is to show the Scriptural evidence and arguments for the first point of doctrine above viz., that all works done by the creature are entirely excluded in the matter of the justification of a sinner in the sight of God.

Because Keach’s language is sometimes antiquated, and his use of punctuation quite fascinating and occasionally misleading, we produced an outline of his twelve arguments, with a summary (Keach’s kernel) and précis (our own attempt to reword the basic point) of each as appropriate. In the hope that they might be helpful, here they are:

First argument: “Taken from the very letter and express testimony of the Holy Scripture” (54). “That doctrine that gives the Holy Scripture the lie, is false and to be rejected. But the doctrine that mixes any works of righteousness done by the creature with faith or the free grace of God, in point of justification, gives the Scripture the lie; therefore that doctrine is false, and to be rejected” (58).

Précis: The Scriptures clearly and repeatedly state that no works (however considered) of a sinner have any place in his justification by God (Rom 4.2; Gal 2.16; Eph 2.8-9; Phil 3.8-9).

Second argument: “That all works done by the creature, are utterly excluded in point of justification appears from the different nature of works, and grace; ’tis positively said, we are justified by grace” (58).

Summary: “That which is of the free grace of God, is not by any works done by the creature.  But justification is of the free grace of God; therefore not by any works done by the creature. That being justified by his grace we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life, Tit. 3.5” (59).

Précis: The principles of grace and works are utterly opposed to each other, and cannot be mixed. Justification is either by works (law, merit, debt) or by grace (free, gift). If works is involved then grace is no longer grace, but the Bible says we are justified graciously (therefore works cannot be involved).

Third argument: “Faith is the way prescribed in the gospel in order to justification” as opposed to any and all works (29).

Summary: “That doctrine which confoundeth the terms of the law and gospel together in point of justification, is a false and corrupt doctrine. But the doctrine that mixeth sincere obedience, or works of any kind done by us, with faith in point of justification, confound the terms of the law and gospel together in point of justification; therefore that doctrine is false and a corrupt doctrine” (60).

Précis: Only faith takes the sinner from himself to Christ, the only Saviour. Works says, “Do this and live.” Faith says, “Believe and be saved.” These two principles are entirely opposed and cannot be mixed.

Fourth argument: “All works done by the creature are excluded in point of justification of a sinner in the sight of God, because we are justified by a perfect righteousness: if no man is in himself perfectly righteous, then no man can be justified by any works done by him” (63).

Summary: “If we are justified by a complete and perfect righteousness; then an imperfect though a sincere righteousness, doth not justify us, but we are justified by a complete and perfect righteousness” (67-68).  “We can only be justified . . . by that righteousness which is universal and complete. . . . Our obedience, though sincere, is not universal nor complete; therefore our sincere obedience or righteousness justifies us not in God’s sight” (68).

Précis: For a man to be justified requires a perfect righteousness: that is the demand of God’s holy law, which does not change. In order to be justified, we must either provide that perfect righteousness ourselves, or receive it from another. But no sinner is capable of producing or providing perfect righteousness for himself, and therefore it is not possible that we can ever be justified by any works of ours, and so we must find that perfect righteousness outside of ourselves.

Fifth argument: “All works done by the creature are excluded in point of justification of the sinner before God, appears because justification is a great mystery” (68).

Précis: A ‘mystery’ here is truth that we could not have known unless God had revealed it. The idea that we can be justified by sincere obedience suits the wisdom and nature of fallen men: humans readily conclude that the way to obtain God’s favour is to do good and so earn his smile. The doctrine of justification by faith is not unreasonable, but it is above natural (i.e. fallen) reason. It is the wisdom of God revealed from heaven.

Sixth argument: “If when we have done all we can do, [we are] are unprofitable servants; then by our best works of obedience and services under the gospel, we cannot be justified” (71).

Précis: If your works justify you, then you are not an unprofitable servant and have done all that God requires of you, and your sins are not sins, but only minor imperfections. But Jesus shows that by all our efforts – however sincere – we cannot come to deserve the blessings of salvation, which comes only by grace.

Seventh argument: “Because we are said to be justified by the righteousness of God: hence it follows that all our works of obedience are excluded, Rom 3.21, 22. ’Tis called the righteousness of God in opposition to the righteousness of the creature” (72).

“If that righteous which is the righteousness of God, which is by faith, in opposition to the righteousness of the creature doth justify us; then all works done by the creature are excluded in point of justification in God’s sight: but the former is true; ergo [therefore], all works done by the creature are excluded, etc.” (76).

“If Paul, nor no other child of God durst, or dare to be found in any righteousness of their own at death or judgment; then works done by us, or sincere obedience justify us not; but the former is true; therefore no works of ours, nor sincere obedience doth justify us in God’s sight” (77).

“That doctrine that holds a Christian down under slavish fear, by grounding his justification on his own works of holiness and sincere obedience, is not of God; but the doctrine of justification by our own work of holiness or sincere obedience, holds a Christian down under slavish fear, by grounding his justification on his works of holiness and sincere obedience; therefore that doctrine is not of God” (77).

Précis: God in his infinite wisdom has provided his perfect righteousness in Christ as the means of forgiving and justifying guilty and condemned sinners like us. This was Paul’s refuge and must be ours (Phil 3.8-10): Paul excludes all his past and present efforts, however sincere, from his standing with God and relies on the righteousness of Jesus Christ alone for his hope.

Eighth argument: “All works done by the creature are excluded in point of justification of a sinner in the sight of God, because we are justified by that righteousness by which the justice of God is satisfied, and his wrath appeased” (77).

Summary: “If by that righteousness of Christ which is out of us, though imputed to us, the justice of God is fully satisfied, we are justified; then all works done by us, or inherent in us, are excluded in our justification before God: but by that righteousness of Christ which is out of us, though imputed to us, the justice of God is satisfied; therefore all works done by us, or inherent in us, are excluded in our justification before God” (80).

Précis: The only righteousness that delivers us from condemnation and the curse of the law is the righteousness of Jesus Christ imputed to us [put to our account]. We need no other righteousness to accomplish this, and there is no space for any other righteousness in the matter of justification. Our works of righteousness as believers do not justify us, although they are necessary in us, being fruits of our saving union with Jesus Christ. Our personal righteousness apart from Christ gives us nothing in which to boast, either with regard to justification or sanctification.

Ninth argument: “All works done by the creature, are excluded, etc. because ’tis by the obedience of one man that many are made righteous, that is Jesus Christ, he is made of God unto us righteousness, etc. Rom. 5.18,19. 1 Cor. 1.30. But our own inherent righteousness is of many; i.e. every man’s own sincere obedience that obtains it” (81).

Précis: If our justifying righteousness comes by the obedience of one man, then there is no room in justification for the obedience of a second man (ourselves) or any number of other men.

Tenth argument: “All works done by the creature, are excluded in point of justification, I prove thus; if any one man was justified without works or sincere obedience, or through faith only, then all works of obedience, etc., are excluded” (81).

Précis: The thief on the cross, and saved infants dying in infancy, are saved without works of obedience, and yet still justified. This is because the remedy is always the same for every person for the disease of sin: Christ’s atoning death and imputed righteousness. Like our spiritual father, Abraham, as well as other heroes of faith, it is the righteousness that comes by faith (not by works) that justifies.

Eleventh argument: “Is, because Christ is tendered or offered to sinners as sinners” (82).

Précis: Christ is not offered to those who are good or who are trying to be good, but to men who must come to Christ for the righteousness which justifies and for the new life of holiness which invariably follows. We have no qualifications for salvation apart from our need. It is as sinners trusting in Jesus alone that we are justified: where, then, is there room for our own works, either before or after salvation?

Twelfth argument: “It is, because if a man should so walk as to know nothing of himself, i.e. be so righteous, or so sincere in his obedience, as not to have his conscience to accuse, or reproach him; yet he cannot thereby be justified.”

Précis: The holiest men (Job, for example) utterly renounce all their own obedience and righteousness before God, abasing themselves and confessing themselves great sinners. The only plea of the godliest man before the judgment seat is Christ’s blood, death and righteousness. In the day of judgment, we will not plead our works but renounce and be ashamed of them (Mt 25.37). All our good works will be swallowed up in our admiration of God’s free and infinite grace.

Selected applications

Caution: “Do not think, O Soul, that thy own Righteousness doth justify thee, through Christ’s Merits; or that Christ’s Righteousness is thy Legal Righteousness, and not thy Evangelical. No, no, he is thy whole Saviour . . .”

Comfort & instruction: “This Doctrine will support you that are weak, and doubt for want of inherent Righteousness, take hold of it, A Robe of Righteousness, Put it on, Believe on Christ, as poor Sinners come to him . . . if thou can’st not come to God as a Saint, come as a Sinner; nay, as a Sinner thou must come, and may’st come. . . . We are for the Law as Paul was, and for Holiness and sincere Obedience, as any Men in the world; but we would have Men act from right Principles, and to a right end: We would have Men act in Holiness from a Principle of Faith, from a Principle of Spiritual Life. . . . You must first have Union with him, before you can bring forth Fruit to God; you must act from Life, and not for Life.”

Entreaty: “To you that are Believers, Oh! admire Free Grace; lift Christ up who died for you, the Just for the Unjust, who bore your Sins, who was made sin for us that knew no Sin, that we might be made the Righteousness of God in him. He gave himself for you, and has given Grace, the Fruit of his Death, and himself to you. O labour to be a holy People; live to him that died for you, and rose again. To conclude. Is there any Sinner here? Are you ungodly, and in a wretched Condition (in your own Eyes)? Are you weary and heavy laden? Come to Christ, lift up your Heads: For to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifies the Ungodly, his Faith is counted for Righteousness.”

Written by Jeremy Walker

Saturday 19 March 2011 at 13:01

No works in justification

leave a comment »

Regular readers of this blog will know that both neonomianism and antinomianism are bugbears of which we are much aware.  The quote that follows is from The Marrow of True Justification by Benjamin Keach (Solid Ground Christian Books, 2007).  The first part is his eleventh argument for the exclusion of all works done by the creature, or any obedience of his, in the matter of our justification with God.  Keach explodes all attempts to make our own works any part of our standing righteous before God with regard to our justification with the true doctrine of God’s grace in Christ, while making plain that such grace has nothing to do with antinomianism.  Rich stuff!

11 Arg. Is, because Christ is tendered or offered to Sinners as Sinners; not as righteous persons, but as ungodly ones, without any previous Qualifications required of them to set themselves to receive Christ; they are all as poor, lost, undone, weary, and heavy laden Sinners required to believe in Christ, or venture their Souls upon him, though they have no Money, no Righteousness; if they have, they must cast it away, in point of Dependence, Trust, or Justification: These are they, Christ came to call; these are they he invites to come to him, these are they he came to seek and to save, who see nothing of Good in themselves; but contrariwise, are sensible of their filthy Hearts and abominable Lives: And yet though it be thus, if they come to Christ, they shall be at that very instant justified, which Faith or Divine Grace will soon make them holy and sanctify them; for holy Habits are at that very instant infused into them, though Sanctification is a gradual work: This being so, it follows all Works done by the Creature are excluded, in point of Justification of a Sinner before God.  What said Paul to the ungodly Jailor, when he cried out, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?  Believe on the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved and thy house, Acts 16.31.  The Apostle did not put him upon doing to be saved, but upon believing.  But O how contrary is this to the Doctrine some Men preach now-a-days; they tell Sinners what they must do, what good Fruits they must bring forth, and this before the Tree is good, or they have closed with Christ, or have real Union with him; nay, bid the People take heed they do not too soon believe on Christ or venture on Christ.  Sirs, you cannot too soon believe in Christ, I mean truly believe; I don’t say you should get a presumptuous Faith, but true Faith: But is it not strange a Minister should be heard lately to say, A Man must get a new heart before he can be justified.  I though a Man could not have a new Heart before he had true Faith: Is not a new Heart one of the absolute Promises of the New Covenant, Ezek. 36.26.  Can any thing, short of Almighty Power, make the Heart new, or for the Image of God in the Soul; or can a Man that hath a new Heart be under Condemnation, for are not all in that Condition who are not actually justified?  Or can a dead Man quicken himself, or dead Works please God?  Or the Fruit be good before the Tree is good?  Are not all that are new Creatures in Christ Jesus, and have union with him, 2 Cor. 5.17? (82-83)

A little later, he urges the comfort of these things for sinners before raising and answering an objection:

Here is Comfort for Sinners; but if you are self-righteous Persons, or go about like the Jews of old, to establish your own Righteousness, down to Hell you will fall, Rom. 10.2.  This Doctrine will support you that are weak, and doubt for want of inherent Righteousness, take hold of it, A Robe of Righteousness, Put it on, Believe on Christ, as poor Sinners come to him, you that have no Money, no Worth, no Merit, no Righteousness, this Wine and Milk of Justification and Pardon is for you: Cry to God to help you to believe; Christ is the Author of your Faith, ’tis the Gift of God, ’tis a grace of the Spirit; Do you see you are wounded?  Look to Christ, Believe, and thou shalt be saved, Mark 16.16.  John 3.15, 16.  If thou can’st not come to God as a Saint, come as a Sinner; nay, as a Sinner thou must come, and may’st come.

Obj. But this Doctrine is decried for Antinomianism.

Answ. They know not what Antinomianism is, that thus brand us, as here-after I shall God-assisting prove.  If this is to be an Antinomian, we must be all such, and let them mock on; the Lord open their Eyes: We are for the Law as Paul was, and for Holiness and sincere Obedience, as any Men in the world; but we would have Men act from right Principles, and to a right end: We would have Men act in Holiness, from a Principle of Faith, from a Principle of Spiritual Life, be first married to Christ that they may bring forth Fruit to God, Rom 7.4.

We preach to you, Sinners, that Jesus Christ will entertain you, if you come to him, bid you welcome, and not cast you off, because of the Greatness of your Sins, though you have no Qualifications to recommend you to him.  Would you wash your selves from your Sins, and then come to the Fountain of his Blood to be washed; we hold forth Christ to be your whole Saviour, and that he is set forth as the Propitiation through Faith in his Blood; whom if you close with, and believe in, you shall be justified.  We tell you God justifies the Ungodly, i.e. that they are so before justified.  (88-89)

Written by Jeremy Walker

Friday 19 February 2010 at 09:38

Books for Baptists (and others)

leave a comment »

Solid Ground Christian Books is doing ‘A Year With Baptist Classics’, offering an excellent discount on a theological reading programme, drawing on some of the faithful men who have gone before.  They are suggesting a book or so a month, and here is the outline:

January –  Benjamin Keach The Travels of True Godliness
This is a work, written in the style of The Pilgrim’s Progress, tracing the growth, struggles and temptations faced by ‘True Godliness.’ It is an enjoyable journey depicting the path of growth in holiness.

FebruaryAndrew Fuller: A Heart for Missions (Pearce Bio)
One of the best Christian biographies ever written! Samuel Pearce was the Baptist version of Robert Murray McCheyne–a young pastor known for godliness and zeal whose life was brief but impact was profound.

March – Hercules Collins Devoted to the Service of the Temple
A mighty man of God, Hercules Collins was a pastor of a very large London Congregation during the 17th century. This little book very helpfully collects some of his wonderful doctrinal and devotional writings.

April – Adoniram Judson On Christan Baptism
The Congregational Missionary Society was shocked when its first missionary, Adoniram Judson, adopted credobaptist views while on his way to serve in India. In this book, Judson demonstrates the nature of Christian baptism.

May – Southern Baptist Sermons on Sovereignty and Responsibility
American Baptist history is full of great preachers. Here is a collection of sermons by Southern worthies, expounding vital topics; by Basil Manly, Sr., W.B. Johnson, R.B.C. Howell & Richard Fuller.

JuneJohn Broadus: Jesus of Nazareth
Our Lord Jesus is wonderfully presented by another great Southern preacher, John Broadus.

July/AugustBenjamin Beddome’s Exposition of the Baptist Catechism
Here is a gem, long out of print, but recently reprinted. Theology is made practical by this pastor from the village of Bourton-on-the-Water in the English Cotswolds.

SeptemberAndrew Fuller: The Backslider
Christians struggle with sin–this is a fact. We need to consider this truth, learn about its dangers, and find the right method of recovery. This book will help.

October John Bunyan: Come and Welcome to Jesus Christ
We can’t neglect Bunyan! In this book, he calls us to find our full satisfaction in Jesus Christ.

NovemberBenjamin Keach: The Marrow of True Justification
We live in a day when the doctrine of justification by faith alone is under attack. One of our fathers, Benjamin Keach, ably explains this doctrine here. This is the heart of the gospel.

DecemberCharles Spurgeon: Sermons on Men or Women of the Bible
What a great way to conclude the year! As always, Spurgeon shows us how the men and women of the Bible point us to Jesus Christ.

Shipping overseas is possible, and some of these titles will be available through Evangelical Press, but it is a good deal for the package direct from the publisher: the list price for all eleven titles is $151, but there is a special deal for the whole collection for $69.95.

Whether or not you are a Baptist by conviction, this would be a marvellous collection of books to own, and a better one actually to read.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Thursday 17 December 2009 at 10:42

The Life and Ministry of “The Prince of Preachers” – Charles Haddon Spurgeon #1 The young recruit

leave a comment »

The Young RecruitThe Valiant WarriorThe Faithful Veteran

The life of Charles Spurgeon was so full of grace, gifts and labour, and so much has been written by and about him, that we must leave out much that is of interest and usefulness in reviewing his life and ministry.

He was born in Kelvedon, a village in the county of Essex in the east of England, on 19th June 1834.  For the first few years of his life he lived with his grandparents in a town called Stambourne, returning to his parents’ home when about five years old (his grandfather, James, was a Congregational [Independent] minister of the gospel, as was Charles’ father, John).  Even in youth, his earnestness, boldness, and intelligence became rapidly apparent.  From the earliest years of his life young Charles would plunder his grandfather’s shelves of their Puritan treasures, if only initially to look at pictures in, for example, Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress and Foxe’s Book of Martyrs.  Still, he learned to read and practiced the art from an early age.  As the years progressed, his schooling continued to reveal a precocious intellect and a ready tongue.

At the age of fifteen he entered a school in Newmarket as both student and a teacher of younger boys.  One of his own teachers in theology was the cook at the home in which he boarded, who loved and lived a vigorous Calvinism, and helped the young man with many difficult questions of faith and practice.  He was spiritually sensitive, but still unconverted, although for many years he had been alive to the reality of his sin, painfully convinced of his wretchedness.  At the beginning of the next year, having returned home for Christmas, he set off for church one Sunday.  This was the day appointed by God for his great work of grace in the young man’s heart.  The circumstances are striking, and the honour is God’s alone.  As he travelled, the Lord sent a snowstorm which eventually turned him into a Primitive Methodist chapel in Colchester.  As it happened, the regular minister was unable to be there – perhaps prevented by the same snowstorm – and eventually a thin man got up to preach.  To this day, no-one knows who he was.  His text was Isaiah 45.22: “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.”  The man was no practiced speaker and, after about ten minutes of vigorous but curious exposition, he was running out of steam.  Spotting the young stranger, he found a new aspect to his message: “Young man, you look very miserable, and you will always be miserable – miserable in life, and miserable in death – if you don’t obey my text; but if you obey now, this moment, you will be saved.  Young man, look to Jesus Christ.  Look!  Look!  Look!  You have nothing to do but look and live!”  This came with divine power to young Spurgeon’s soul.  He had doubtless heard many good and powerful sermons in his youth, but now the Word of God came by the power of God’s Spirit with saving strength.  Spurgeon looked and lived, and the joy of salvation flooded into his heart as he trusted in Christ to deliver him from sin, death and hell.  It was 6th January 1850.  The excellence and preciousness of Christ would colour all the subsequent labours of Charles Spurgeon.

It was not long before Satan roared in again at Charles.  The young man had fondly imagined that he would now be free of such attacks, but doubts, foul thoughts and blasphemies again assailed him.  This bitter experience was brief, as Christ helped his young lamb to wrestle against his sinful heart, but it taught Charles that Christian living was a battle, not a bed of roses.  It was a battle which he earnestly joined as a Christian warrior.

Having been converted, Charles was admitted as a member of a Congregational church in April of that year.  However, by now some of his thinking had matured, and he had been convinced from Scripture that believers, and only believers, ought to be baptised.  He therefore applied to a local Baptist minister for baptism, and on 3rd May 1850 he walked eight miles to a village called Isleham where he was baptised by Mr. Cantlow in the River Lark (where a stone still stands to mark the spot).  He received communion for the first time on 5th May (he would not take the Lord’s supper until he had been baptised), the same day on which he entered upon his labours as a Sunday School teacher, rapidly proving popular with the children, and with many adults also.

In the summer of 1850 he moved to the university city of Cambridge.  In this city he continued as a teacher-student, and joined a Baptist church.  As he entered into the life of the church, and advanced in his understanding, new opportunities for service arose; one in particular was unceremoniously thrust upon him.  A man called James Vinter was responsible for organising various men to preach in outlying villages, and one day called Spurgeon to him.  Vinter explained that a young man was going to preach at a village called Teversham, and – as the fellow in question was not much used to services – would probably be very glad of some company.  Spurgeon accordingly met up with an older Christian lad, and they set off together to Teversham one Sunday afternoon.  Their conversation soon revealed that this other young man was expecting Charles to preach, and nothing would induce the older boy to change his mind.  With this new responsibility pressing upon him, he decided to preach his first sermon on “Unto you therefore which believe he is precious” (1Pt 2.7), and did so to the profit and pleasure of the few villagers gathered in a cottage.

His preaching labours increased in number and effect, until – aged only seventeen – he was called to pastor a church in the godless village of Waterbeach, not far from Cambridge.  His zealous labours and keen insight into the sin of men and the grace of God meant that, before too long, Waterbeach was transformed.  Although there is evidence of development and maturing in these early years, surely there are few preachers who have been so fully and so early equipped by God as was Spurgeon!  After two years in Waterbeach, and aged only nineteen, Spurgeon was invited to preach at New Park Street Chapel in London.  There was a good pedigree to the church there: previous ministers had included Benjamin Keach, John Gill, and John Rippon, all differently but greatly used of God in their day.  But a good pedigree was not enough.  Iain Murray speaks of the prevailing spiritual conditions in England at the time:

Protestant Christianity was more or less the national religion . . . The church was not lacking in wealth, nor in men, nor in dignity, but it was sadly lacking in unction and power.  There was a general tendency to forget the difference between human learning and the truth revealed by the Spirit of God.  There was no scarcity of eloquence and culture in the pulpits, but there was a marked absence of the kind of preaching that broke men’s hearts.  Perhaps the worst sign of all was the fact that few were awake to these things.  (Iain Murray, The Forgotten Spurgeon, 21)

In this context, Spurgeon entered London and began to declare God’s Word.

The chapel at New Park Street had seats for some twelve hundred people.  On the morning Spurgeon first preached, there were perhaps between one hundred and two hundred people present.  God so owned his preCharles Haddon Spurgeon 8 (young)aching to the congregation that they – excited by what they heard – called out friends and neighbours, so that by the evening the congregation was significantly larger.  Spurgeon agreed to return for further preaching dates, and within a few weeks, the church had called him to become their pastor.  The young preacher offered to come on three months’ trial, and called for earnest prayer from the church.  It was not long before the building was packed with eager hearers as Spurgeon, himself earnestly praying and enjoying the same with and from the people, preached the sovereign grace of God in Christ Jesus, and the church urged him to receive the pastorate on a full time basis.  Spurgeon accepted on the condition of this earnest and urgent prayer continuing.

The Young RecruitThe Valiant WarriorThe Faithful Veteran

Written by Jeremy Walker

Friday 11 September 2009 at 18:12

“The English Baptists of the 17th Century”

with 3 comments

As I mentioned in an earlier post, my esteemed father, Austin Walker, has been away, and was one of the featured speakers at a conference on The English Baptists of the 17th Century at the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies on the campus of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

The audio recordings of the conference are now online at the Andrew Fuller Conference website and blog, and doutbless there will be much of interest to historians and general scholars, especially of a Baptist persuasion.  In an act of shameless nepotism, may I draw your attention to my father’s paper on “Benjamin Keach and the Protestant Cause Under Persecution”?  You will find it on the page above (where it can be downloaded), or can go to it directly here.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Friday 29 August 2008 at 19:44

%d bloggers like this: